Thunder Big Men Must Make More Noise


OKLAHOMA CITY — Seven-foot-1 Marc Gasol sat at his locker, both knees buried under a mountain of ice wrapped in plastic as bruise-brother Zach Randolph slowly made his way to the showers, teetering from side to side as if walking on wooden pirate legs.

Yes, the bludgeoning has begun in this anticipated battle between a half-ton of big men. The Memphis Grizzlies’ old-school duo (and inarguably the craftiest low-post offensive tandem going) are so far doling out the type of punishment that has to be concerning for Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks and his defensive-minded tandem of Serge Ibaka and the ever-scowling, always-scrutinized Kendrick Perkins as this series, tied 1-1, moves to Memphis’ Grindhouse.

This matchup has yet to devolve into the dislike and sumo-wrestling tactics seen in the first round when Randolph battled Los Angeles Clippers nemesis Blake Griffin. But Randolph stressed that nothing has come easy in attaining his and Gasol’s impressive totals through two games: 38.5 ppg on 29-for-55 shooting (52.7 percent), 16.5 rpg and 6.0 apg.

“We’re just playing hard. I’m trying to stay away from that,” Randolph said, referring to the extracurricular activity between he and Griffin. “I’m just trying to play my game, play physical. I’m not trying to get into no altercation, ain’t trying to be like last series, me and Blake, just trying to go out and play.”

And for an extra tweak aimed at the vacationing Griffin, the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Randolph said this of the Thunder’s combo of Ibaka and Perkins:

“They are tough. They’re tougher than the Clippers — Ibaka and Perkins — they’re tougher than Blake. So yeah, they’re tough and they’re strong.”

In Tuesday’s Game 2, when Kevin Durant did everything imaginable and it still wasn’t enough, he was asked to take a turn defending the 265-pound Gasol. That strategy that backfired as Gasol scored seven of his 17 first-half points in a span of 96 seconds that flipped a 39-35 Thunder lead into a 45-42 deficit.

Late in the third quarter, Ibaka and Perkins each sat with four fouls, halting what might have been their best defensive quarter. Perkins held Gasol without a shot attempt until heading to the bench with about three minutes left, and Randolph scored four points on two shot attempts.

Down 54-51 at halftime, OKC managed a 74-69 lead after three.

But the fouls kept Ibaka, who has 10 rebounds and six blocks in the series, on the bench from the 4:29 mark of the third to 8:40 of the fourth as Memphis surged. Perkins sat out until the final 3:03 of the game when reserve forward-center Nick Collison fouled out. Perkins also drew the wrath home fans during that third quarter after bumbling plays where he couldn’t convert offensive rebounds and clumsily threw away two other possessions.

No one expects Ibaka and Perkins to match Randolph and Gasol on offense, but the gap has been especially brutal with Ibaka struggling with his mid-range jumper. He showed signs of breaking out in Game 2, going 5-for-12 after an 0-for-4 start, but he’s just 6-for-22 in the series for 16 points, or about what Randolph is averaging (16.5 ppg). Combined, Ibaka and Perkins are 8-for-32.

Meawhile, Gasol has been terrific maneuvering against Perkins, scoring inside with foot work and hooks and outside with set shots. He’s averaging 22.0 ppg so far on 59.3-percent shooting despite near-constant double-teaming by Thabo Sefolosha, who is often the help defender.

“It’s not about that matchup,” said Gasol, who landed an unintentional but direct upper arm shot to Perkins’ nose in Game 2. “It’s about Grizzlies against the Thunder, not about one guy against another. It’s more about how I can help my team win the game. That’s how I look at it.”

Perkins is no offensive threat, but he is a favorite of Brooks and teammates. His screen-setting, defensive muscle and rebounding are imperative for the Thunder to advance. Asked if it takes a well-trained basketball eye to appreciate the plodding Perkins’ value to OKC, Brooks quickly fired back.

“If you look at winning percentage, you just have to know what’s higher from what’s lower,” Brooks said. “He wins. And you can talk about the stats all you want but he helps us win games. He’s not going to score 15, 20 points, but he’s going to impact the game. He’s a great low-post defender and he’s playing against an All-Star, playing against one of the best centers in the game and he has to be able to do it every time for 30-something minutes.”

Perkins only made it 24 minutes in the 99-93 Game 2 loss with four points, six rebounds, four fouls, one block and three turnovers. The grumbling from the Thunder faithful in the third quarter seemed to come whenever the ball neared his hands.

A bull on a team of thoroughbreds, Perkins said he doesn’t believe the fans have lost faith in him.

“Nah, not really,” Perkins said. “You got probably one out of every 15 that probably say something negative or say something about, ‘He don’t do this or he don’t do that,’ instead of just appreciating what you bring to the table. At the end of the day it is what it is. Grandpa always told me a pair of lips can say anything.”

Coming off the six-game Houston series — a spread-it-out, up-and-down free-for-all — in which Perkins played just 15.5 mpg, Brooks’ lips predicted this series to be designed for Perkins.

And it still might. Despite Memphis’ inside advantage, both games have come down to the wire. Durant, with so much responsibility on his shoulders minus Russell Westbrook, needs help. Kevin Martin must show up every game to help an adjusting offense prone to fits of inactivity.

But OKC’s defense, stingy all season, has allowed four quarters of at least 27 points and three of 30 or more to a team not known for scoring.

That can’t continue, which means OKC’s big men need to bring some more thunder into the paint.


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  2. anonymous fan says:

    I’m an OKC hater n so what? I look fwd to mem knock em out. It won’t surprise me if OKC never wins it all. They have a bunch of fair weather fans anyway 😀

  3. ko0kiE says:

    OKC is just not build to win it it all without Westbrook.. they need his penetration. the pressure with foul trouble etc would be on Memphis.

  4. Gettiing better says:

    I disagree when you say that WB has nothing to do with the current situation.It was he who took all the shot, leaving other players without shooting. In one game he shoot 1 out of 20 and continue to force missing shot. Now if the players dont shoot they have no confidence in their shots.All of the sudden they have to adjust their game. It wont work

  5. MIAMI says:

    Ibaka is awesome-but he wants to be on a championship team like MIAMI HEAT. they will trade him for Dexter Pittman(talented young player). Miami needs ibakas shotblocking prowess


    LETS GO HEAT!!!!!!!!

  6. realist2013 says:

    Westbrook is the only attacker on the Thunder. Without a play maker its hard against any team. Durant can make shots but he doesnt attack like a Lebron ,Wade ,Westbrook, or Chris Paul. No attackers means opponent gets to run their defensive set on a predictable offense. Thunder need to shake it up and make shots. So what if durant scores 40 they expect him to. Its everyone else they want to keep out of the game.

    • Shocked says:

      Nothing else needs to be said… Lets Durant score but denie everyone else.

      • ko0kiE says:

        really good strategy.. let Durant do what he does best, but don’t push the others out of their comfort zone.. lol

  7. ThunderRocketsFan says:

    Is Perkins playing for the other team? I’ve seen him throw the ball to a player on another team too many times. Also, fouling, dramatics earning technical, etc. Frustrates me when he’s on the court.

  8. People don’t seem to understand that the value of Perkins is completely in his intangibles. He’s not a scorer. He’s not an expert rebounder although he does his share. He’s not a shot-blocker. He is, however, one of the most difficult post defenders in the league. He throws guys off their spot. He denies the ball.

    Off the court he’s known to be a leader. He settles disputes between the OKC players. He’s a veteran that knows the game through and through.

    I wouldn’t give up Perkins and there’s few trades I’d consider worth amnestying him for.

    • ko0kiE says:

      you’re probably right, but I think he hurts them a lot more offensively than he brings defensively… especially against Marc Gasol.
      Thunder are basically playing 4vs5 offensively and memphis has Marc Gasol, Defensive Player of the Year, helping out wherever they need him.. it’s just not gonna work.

  9. anonymous says:

    ill go for Collison over Perk, Collison and Ibaka for the bigs

  10. allah says:

    The lakers would have won the west if kobe didnt’ get injured

  11. Scott says:

    Kendrick Perkins is a complete BUM!! Can’t do anything on the court and OKC play literally 4on5 on offense. Play Nick Collison or go small with Martin. Perkins is a scrub!

  12. max says:

    So much pressure on Durant to take the Grizzles. However, the “bigs” of M.Gasol and Z.Randolph is a tandem hard to overcome! If those two stay out of foul trouble and keep controlling the boards, not much outstanding shooting will help Durant to make it through. Their ability to knock down FREE THROWS is a great accomplishment for a big player. So sad, that the NBA does not make more reference to the importance of making FREE THROWs, when if looking at the stats more can see a game is won or lost by about the same amount of how many FREE THROWS are made or missed. Give OKC credit, they are overall #1 in making their FREETHROWS! Giving Shaq an MVP one year and that “dude” could not help out his team by making FREE THROWS? Now how can that be the most valuable player? ONLY Shaq’ width and height got him to the top. No BB IQ. Never able to get a shot on his own. What could he do except under a basket where team mates had to do the work for him to score? Now M.Gasol can hit from out front get his own shot, knock down free throws and is an all around great player. Being good at only one position? HOW can one be even considered an MVP? Marc Gasol is an all around great player! GSW and Grizzles just may play for the western finals!

  13. MJfromOKC says:

    I’ll tell you one thing. Perkins will grab a rebound turn around and throw the ball to an opposing player resulting in a critical turnover. That much is guaranteed.

    • W/E says:

      Cause the guy is a total brick, OKC gotta find a decent center with little brain and minimum skills at least.

      • HardWood says:

        Perkins is a great defender. He makes his free throws in crunch time. He does needs some post moves but this is going to be a grind out series and OKC big men are about to show up and show out. SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE OKC HATERS. Where your teams at??? Cant wait to see OKC kill GS in the West Conference Finals!!!

      • HardWoodout series and OKC big men are about to show up and show out. SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE OKC HATERS. Where your teams at??? Cant wait to see OKC kill GS in the West Conference Finals!!! says:

        I think its funny that everyone fails to realize that this series is tied 1-1. Its not 0-2. So OKC lost one at home. Its a 7 game series and this is the reason they play the game.

      • Anonymous says:

        So happy that the celtics traded Perkins. He has never been good, only his presence is menacing.

  14. W/E says:

    They cant make noise cause they have no talent and skills,Perkins and Ibaka are indeed useless vs Gasol and Randolph.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      the only reason this is a topic is because Ibaka is struggling to make open jumpers, it was ibaka and perkins who handled gasol and Randolph in the 2011 playoffs, who won that series? ahhh yeah I twas OKC, Ibaka needs to relax and find his flow, Brooks said Ibaka has the most dependable mid range jumper on the team, his wide open misses this entire playoffs are unexcusable

      • lordkrimson says:

        Operative word…”was” . It is not 2011. in fact if you want to bring up history whats OKC record this year against the Grizz ?

  15. holyspectator says:

    okc is nothing without westbrook ….cant believe gsw puttin in that work tho…we might see them in the finals against miami, this is gonna be an interstin finals

  16. sense says:

    Collison is probably the only big man that shows up so far in the playoff. Perkin and Ibaka are useless. Beside Durant who else can shoot?? Fisher is the next one thats reliable. K Mart maybe can shoot one in four game. WB is a selfish player. OKC in trouble…

    • Westbrook#1 says:

      @ sense. Westbrook is not a selfish player. And he has nothing to do with this he is out. If WB was playing this would be a guaranteed victory for OKC. I agree with everything else you said though….

  17. OKC needs to make a statement in Game 3. They’re feeling unexcusable for their actions in Game 2. I think they’re coming out with a better effort in Memphis.